#47 1955 British Grand Prix

2021-04-19 00:00

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#1955, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Nicola Carriero, Luca Saitta, Translated by Martina Marastoni,

#47 1955 British Grand Prix

On Thursday, July 7th, 1955, the initiative of the General President of the Italian Automobile Club, prince Caracciolo, intended to obtain concrete su

On Thursday, July 7th, 1955, the initiative of the General President of the Italian Automobile Club, prince Caracciolo, intended to obtain concrete support for Ferrari, specialized in the construction of racing cars, finds full and cordial compliance in the automotive industry of Turin, that gives proof of a spirit of connectedness and an admirable understanding. Fiat offers to Ferrari a contribution of fifty million Italian lire every year for five years, while Lancia offers to the Modena factory its modern racing cars, left aside after the loss of their champion Alberto Ascari. In this way, Ferrari will have first-rate material ready to be used and gradually updated, according to the guidelines of the continuous evolution of automotive technology, in order to be able to effectively represent the Italian colours against the mighty German offensive in the Grand Prix. Furthermore, the broad support of Fiat will allow Ferrari to overcome the difficulties caused by the highly specialized type of work. The collaboration of Fiat and Lancia with the small and glorious Modena manufacturer is welcomed with deep satisfaction from those who think that motorsport has a deeper meaning that the one of a simple sport competition, expressed by its episodes and results. It is not difficult at all to see a connection between the gesture of the two industries of Turin and their past: far away for one but full of great memories and great sporting achievements; closer to the other, but equally bright and burgeoning with fatally crushed promises. While Fiat keeps alive the memory of its famous grand prix cars and its legendary drivers, who formed the great dawn of national motorsport, the house in via Monginevro, after a short but brilliant period of victorious activity on the tracks and roads of the world, lost its top driver Ascari and was consequently forced to give up the defence of the Italian colours in competitions, transferring the precious baggage of technical and constructive experiences acquired in racing to the Modena manufacturer. During the evening of Thursday, 7th of July 1955, Enzo Ferrari, after being notified of the gesture of the President of the Italian Automobile Club and the ones of Fiat and Lancia towards his house, immediately sends his thanks to the three through a long telegram:


"The received news were surprising and I am grateful for having only recently exposed my situation to the current President Prince Caracciolo as a result of a prolonged obstinate and isolated competitive technical effort. I am pleased to have noted the warm understanding together with prompt generous significant solidarity shown to me for having the Lancia company offered a substantial technical contribution, which summarizes the most recent experiences and realizations in the possibility have already clearly emerged, and the Fiat company, progenitor of all today's technical-sporting achievements that generously will comfort the continuation of my small home, I strongly hope that old and new collaborators will happily work sharing sacrifices and anxieties in order to make the pulsating expressions of Italian work in the world more and more worthy, honouring so many of our fallen in the throes of an overcoming whose goal was always tricolour. With respectful gratitude, Enzo Ferrari".


A few days later in Grazzano Visconti, Enzo Ferrari attends the funeral of the wife of Prince Caracciolo, mother-in-law of Giovanni Agnelli, and in these circumstances, offering condolences, he shows his gratitude for the economic help given by FIAT to his Automotive Activity. Finally, it should be noted that, in these days of disorientation and controversy over the usefulness or otherwise of sports car activity, there is a meaning in the gesture of the two industrial complexes that cannot escape anyone, and that is that racing has a precise technique and propagandistic function that require its continuation, provided that they are carried out in organizational conditions such as to guarantee the widest possible safety for all. In fact, the rumour according to which the Ministry of Transport is preparing, with a project under construction, to claim all the powers in terms of automotive events, is learned with expressions of lively protest by all the members of the sports commission of the ACI, who meet on Friday, 8 July 1954, in Rome to agree on the new rules that from now on, in full agreement with the competent government authorities, will have to regulate motor racing. The project, in fact, is regarded as the first and essential step taken by the ministry to deliver a fatal blow to the Automobile Club, which, deprived of its sporting powers, would simultaneously lose the autonomy it enjoys and which always has so much jealously defended. A conflict, therefore, seems to emerge between the ICA and the executive power.


However, considering the impressions of some participants of the conference, the hypothesis is not arbitrary at all; nevertheless, those who think that the voice that is creating all this sensation does not have a serious foundation and it is to be considered only as an exaggerated and pessimistic interpretation of the surveys that the Ministry of the Interior - in agreement with the Sport Ministry and the Transport Ministry - is making at the competent bodies in order to establish, based on the obtained results, which measures should be considered indispensable for the safety of the drivers and of the people assisting the race, are missing. Following this more optimistic hypothesis, the CSAI and the Ministry should be working together with the same goal and there should not be any reason to be alarmed, but this does not exclude the other voices talking about appeals at CONI, whose joint even recently had underlined its point of view favourable to the continue of the races. What is essential, even for some high exponents of ACI, is that new and effective competition rules are rapidly established, such as to protect the safety of both the public and the competitors as much as possible; that this discipline must then be enforced by the ACI in full agreement with the police authorities, is a right that no one will be able to question, as long as the ACI and its bodies prove that they are up to the task. In this sense of maximum interest, the conclusions that the sports commissions will reach will be made, thus offering the best opportunity to demonstrate that motorsport can identify by itself in which points its regulation has been overtaken by technical advancement and by itself it knows how to impose new and more severe limits. While the dialogues proceed in Italy, on Saturday, 16th July 1955, the World Championship resumes in Aintree with the British Grand Prix. It is the sixth appointment of the season for the World Championship, and maybe the last, since other next races have been cancelled, such as the Grand Prix of Germany, Switzerland and Spain, while for the French Grand Prix a date has yet to be set. This means that Fangio is basically already crowned, for the third time, World Champion, having obtained a total of 27 points, against the 13 of the teammate Moss, the 11.3 of Trintignant and the 10.3 of Farina. Even though some of the races of 1955 were characterized by a series of adversities that have sensibly deformed the physiognomy of the season, it must be recognized that the great Argentinian champion fully deserves the title, and that the Mercedes Grand Prix was for sure the best Formula One car of the year. 


However, it is not certain that for the next and remaining races the Italian cars will not be able to shine more than they did in the recent past. A circuit like Aintree looks in facts adapt for the possibilities of Maserati and Ferrari. The former, even in the Netherlands Grand Prix in Zandvoort, made a miracle, and now that Behra has completely recovered, they can aim to great goals in the next test on Saturday. About the Super-Squalo Ferraris, the inconvenient that caused its great power, given by the engine in the rehearsal room, to get weaker in the practical use on the track, has been localized in the transmission. If the mechanics of Maranello were able to find a remedy to this technical imperfection, then Ferrari will also have its comeback as a tough opponent against Mercedes. The CSAI, meanwhile, takes some energetic dispositions following the series of racing disasters that have occurred. Even considering the fatality of these last ones and knowing that a complete regulation will take a lot of time to be practically applied, it is established that: all the speed events on track programmed for the remaining of 1955 will be suspended; only races set in uphill circuits whose characteristics are exclusively limited to this and with limited length will be allowed; new tests are obligatorily prescribed in all the circuits. Exceptionally the Aosta-Gran S. Bernardo will be allowed, since this race is already in the phase of execution, as long as the new norm of excluding from the final standings those drivers who will cause damage to the car bodywork or to the chassis, or that will be included in various incidents, will be experimented. It is possible that it will cause complaints or discussions about the damages of the car body, but undoubtedly it will invite everyone to prudence. The drivers, even if understanding the human criterion that inspired the norm, look a bit perplexed towards its real effectiveness. Without getting to the point of saying that it is an anti-sportive principle, it is feared that this new worry could make everyone even more nervous, when, on the other hand, everyone should be calm; there are many reserves about the possibility of a real practical application of the disposition. For these same reasons, some doubt that the amazing record of the track, set in 1954 by Eugenio Castellotti, could be beaten. At least three drivers will try to do so: Umberto Maglioli and Willi Daetwyler on the Ferrari 3000 and Franco Bordoni on the Maserati, always of 3000cc. 


Once again, the 3 litres of the two teams of Modena will face each other and the result of their fight against the chronometer is awaited with alive interest. But Daetwyler cannot try much, because his car stops as soon as he passes the starting line. The engine failure is hoped to be fixed during the night, to allow the giant driver to regularly take part in the start of the race. Moreover, Salvadore Ammendola and Casella are missing, with the absence of the latter, that would have been at the wheel of a Mercedes 300 SL, that takes away a bit of interest from the Gran Turismo race. Still about the new famous CSAI norm, the stewards make sure that all the drivers sign a declaration in which they agree to accept all of its terms. At first, only Maglioli refuses to do so, because in his opinion it is a limitation of his liberty as a competitor. As it was feared, the new declaration of the maximum executive organ of the Italian automotive sport is destined to create vast controversy. The route will be closed on Sunday, 16th July 1955, from 9:00 a.m., and the start is set at 10:30 a.m. For the first time since 1948, the British Grand Prix does not take place among the green fields of Buckinghamshire but instead is organised in the industrial north-west of England, on the Aintree circuit just outside the port of Liverpool. With the postponement of the French Grand Prix, the various teams have almost a clear month for preparing for the British round of the World Championship, and as a consequence, a large entry begins to head northwards. In view of the sweeping victories in the recent Grand Prix races in Belgium and Holland, the Mercedes-Benz team are rather naturally the centre of interest. In addition, there is the possibility that the Daimler-Benz organisation might allow a reversal of normal team orders and allow Moss to set the pace ahead of Fangio, in deference to the young Britisher’s first appearance in his home country with one of the German cars. Practice begins after lunch on the Thursday before race day and as the 4.83-kilometre circuit is new to most of the teams and the drivers, everyone is away as soon as the circuit is open for training. The German team bring along a selection of five cars, four to be used by the team drivers, as Taruffi has been taken on as the fourth member of the team, and the fifth is to be used as a hack. Fangio and Moss have the short-chassis models, with outboard front brakes; that of the latter having a new type of bonnet which hings forward complete with the radiator cowling as on a DB2 Aston Martin. 


Kling and Taruffi have the medium-length cars with outboard front brakes, as first tried at Spa, and the reserve car is an original 1955 model, which is a medium-length car with inboard front brakes. In all other respects, the cars are unchanged from earlier races this season. Having been to Aintree before, the Maserati team are well under control and bring along four cars, three being the regular 1955 team cars, with unlouvered bodywork and large-port cylinder heads, driven by Behra, Musso and Mieres, while the fourth is one of last year’s cars and is driven by Simon, who replaces Perdisa at the last moment. The car driven by Mieres is fitted with a new five-speed gearbox, outwardly the same as the others but distinguishable by reason of the extra slot on the gear-gate. As Behra has driven at Aintree last year, he is familiar with the circuit and looks like providing the major opposition for the German cars. The Ferrari team bring along three Tipo 625 cars, similar to the one with which Trintignant won the Monaco race, as they think that the comparatively slow Aintree circuit does not suit the stumpy Tipo 555 Super Squalo, it being more comfortable on a high-speed circuit such as Spa. The drivers are the same as at Zandvoort, being Hawthorn, Trintignant and Castellotti, and the English driver is the main hope for the team as he has driven at Aintree before. The expected new eight-cylinder Gordini does not arrive and it is the usual three cars that are prepared for the race, Manzon on the 1954 car with 1955 engine and disc brakes, Da Silva Ramos on the 1955 car, and a newcomer to Grand Prix racing, though well known in sports-car racing, Mike Sparken, driving a 1954 Gordini. The Vanwall team enter two cars and both arrive, the drivers being Wharton and Schell, the American having his first try with one of these cars. In addition, there is McAlpine with the original streamlined Connaught, Fairman with the factory-owned experimental car, Marr with his privately-owned car, the first production streamlined one, and Rolt with R. R. C. Walker’s new car. All these Connaughts are the 1955 Grand Prix models, powered by Connaught-prepared Alta engines, with fuel injection. Rolt is sharing his car with P. D. Walker, not related with the owner of the car, and this one is the newest Connaught and is fitted with a normal Grand Prix body and not the fully streamlined one. 


There are four privately-owned Maseratis, Collins driving the Owen car and Macklin driving the Moss car, both having Dunlop disc brakes and wheels, Salvadori on the Gilby Engineering car and Gould with the ex-Bira car, now painted a dark green. In spite of normal International regulations, the Macklin Maserati is painted grey with a sickly green bonnet top, and the Rolt car is dark blue. To complete this excellent entry is a potentially fierce machine entered by Cooper’s and to be driven by Jack Brabham, the Australian. It is a very slightly enlarged 1.100 cc. rear-engine sports-car chassis fitted with a Bristol engine which has been bored out to 2.2 litres. Somehow, room has been found in the back for this unit and it is coupled to the Cooper-modified Citroën final drive and gearbox, only the top three ratios of the special box being fitted. Having the fully streamlined body, the car looks exactly like a Cooper-Climax except for headlights and number plates. In the opening afternoon, only four of the entry do not practise, these being McAlpine, Fairman, Gould and Brabham, while the Owen Maserati is not out for long. The existing lap record is officially held by Moss with his Maserati, set up last October, with a time of 2'00"6, and though at the time he thought that it sounded too fast to be true and was probably an error in timekeeping, nothing could be done about it. It does not take him many laps in the short-chassis Mercedes-Benz to find that with a far more powerful car, greater driving skill and better conditions, he cannot improve the time. By the end of practice, he has equalled it but only by trying all that he knew, and Fangio cannot get close. All four Mercedes-Benz are going well and Taruffi is showing remarkable form, taking to the new car in a big way. It is interesting to hear the German engineer Uhlenhaut and the Italian driver/engineer Taruffi discussing the car using their only common language, which is English. All four drivers are doing a great deal of practice, as is Uhlenhaut, and when they are not driving their own cars, they go out on the spare practice car, as the aim is to make it cover the distance of two full races, during the practice periods, as an endurance test. The only real opposition to the times set up by the German team comes from Behra, who is feeling really at home on the flat northern circuit, though Simon and Mieres are supporting him well. The Ferraris are not very happy and are barely faster than the Vanwalls, while Castellotti breaks his gearbox before he even finds the way round the corners. 


Practice lasts from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., which seems a long time for most people as the activity is not intense, and the day ends with Moss and Fangio comfortably faster than the rest. The next afternoon everyone is out again, with the exception of the Owen Maserati, and the missing cars from the previous afternoon appear. The Cooper has trouble with its clutch before the track is opened, it being impossible to free it, so Brabham does a few laps to qualify and leaves it at that. All the Connaughts are out, once again Walker making better lap times than Rolt, with the dark blue car. It is again Moss and Fangio who set the pace, and they are comfortably faster than Behra, the former recording 2'00"4, fractionally faster than the race lap record, while Fangio manages 2'00"6. Behra gets down to 2'01"4 and on the corners, it is very obvious that these three drivers are really trying and doing some very good Grand Prix driving. Kling and Taruffi are in good form, recording 2'02"3, respectively, followed closely by Mieres, who gets steadily better and will surely win a Grand Prix one day, with 3.2 seconds. Outstanding is Schell, who proves that a Vanwall can really be made to go and put in a best lap of 2'03"8, after which comes a big gap and Manzon and Castellotti equal with 5.0 sec. The former has been driving hard and kept ahead of Trintignant for a number of laps, while the latter has never looked at all fast, driving very smoothly and relaxed. No one is having any really serious trouble, the Gordini disc brakes are occasionally playing the fool, and the five-speed gearbox on Mieres’s Maserati is not always selecting properly. By 5:00 p.m., most teams are fairly happy but McAlpine is thrashing round right to the bitter end trying out experiments with the fuel injection. The afternoon of race-day is very hot and an enormous crowd turns up to witness this 8th British Grand Prix, the loudspeakers welcome everyone in four different languages, a nice Continental touch, and the drivers are paraded round the circuit sitting on the backs of a line of Austin-Healey sports cars. A minute or two before 2.30 p.m. the familiar pandemonium of starting the cars break out, some mechanics push-starting, others running from one team car to another with the portable electric starter trailing long lengths of cable. On the front row are Moss, Fangio and Behra, in that order, with Kling and Taruffi in row two, and Neubauer indicates to his drivers when there are ten seconds to go. 


An inspiring sight for the British spectators is the green Vanwall, driven by Schell, in the middle of the third row of the grid, completely surrounded by red cars, while less inspiring is the motley array of green on the cars on the back of the starting grid. In his usual manner Fangio shoots into the lead, with Moss close behind, and Behra makes a hesitant getaway. As the dust and smoke die down, it is seen that Schell and Marr have both stalled and mechanics rush to their aid to push them off into the fray. Streaming around the first corners, the 24 cars, Fairman being a non-starter due to some experimental parts failing, can be seen heading infield across the great Aintree stadium and rounding Country Corner Mercedes-Benz are 1-2-3-4 in the order Fangio, Moss, Kling and Taruffi. Behra sweeps through the field after a hesitant start and is third at the end of the opening lap, but Fangio and Moss are already off on their own. On the general bumping and boring of the opening lap, Simon and Hawthorn receive dented tails and the former has to stop as his gear selector is not working properly. On lap three, Fangio lets Moss go by and it becomes pretty obvious that the British Grand Prix is under control by the Mercedes-Benz team, barring another mechanical fiasco such as Monte Carlo. Clearly, Moss is going to be allowed to set the pace and probably win, so the interest turns to the rest of the field. Behra is hanging on to the leaders, as best he can and is leaving the rest of the runners behind, while Mieres is in great form and passes Taruffi, taking fifth place behind Kling; Musso is not far behind the last of the German cars. As the long line of-cars comes down the straight towards the main stands colour classification forms a very definite pattern, in order silver, red and green, with blue cars filling the odd gaps along the line. The rear-engined Cooper is disappointing, being left far behind, while the Connaughts cannot really cope with the Gordinis. Wharton’s Vanwall is near the back, but Schell is trying hard, and successfully, to make up for his bungled start. At five laps the two masters are lapping at 2'04"0 and are comfortably out on their own, and behind them come Behra, Kling and Mieres, in a close group. The Cooper is already lapped by the first two cars, and the only green hope is the Schell’s Vanwall, which is gaining ground rapidly, being in 11th place and in sight of Trintignant. Behra begins to pour out smoke and finally comes to rest at Waterway Corner, and after 10 laps Moss is leading Fangio by one and a half seconds and Kling is over 30 seconds behind, with Mieres, Taruffi and Musso in very close attendance. 


50 seconds behind the leader comes Hawthorn, with Collins pressing him hard, and a little way back Trintignant, with Schell still gaining. Castellotti comes into his pit to complain that the something is not working and, after looking at a plug, the mechanics send him off again. Although the first two cars are running round unchallenged, they are not going slowly and Moss has to drive impeccably to be allowed to stay in front of the World Champion, while behind come the other two German cars, each with a Maserati at its tail, and for a brief moment Musso gets past Taruffi. The real interest lays in the progress of Schell, who sweeps past Trintignant’s Ferrari and closes tight up on the Hawthorn vs Collins duel. Collins gets his Maserati past the factory Ferrari and then Schell goes past, and while the Ferraris are not happy on the circuit, it is also obvious that Hawthorn is not his usual self, and in point of fact, he is suffering from the heat which is pretty intense for the north of England. Manzon peters out and walks back to the pits, and Rolt arrives at his pit with a very flat-sounding Connaught, the throttle linkage causing trouble. Moss and Fangio are now catching the tail-enders, and as they lap the numerous green cars their traffic driving is a joy to watch, neither of them wasting a second nor hesitating as they weave their way through the backmarkers. On lap 17 Fangio retakes the lead, probably from force of habit, or else to remind the boy that he is still about the place, and Simon rejoins the race, while Gould and Wharton leave it for a short time to make adjustments. On lap 20, the pair are 40 seconds ahead of Kling and Mieres, who are still close together, and then come Taruffi, Musso, Collins, Schell and Hawthorn in quick succession. Almost immediately after this Schell breaks his throttle pedal off at the roots, so hard has he been pressing on it, Marr spins off and stalls his engine, also damaging a brake pipe, and Castellotti withdraws with a faulty transmission. Although Fangio and Moss are comfortably in the lead, they are setting a good pace and the rest of the runners are suffering. McAlpine goes past with his Connaught sounding rough and woolly, and, in very direct contrast, Wharton goes by with the Vanwall sounding beautifully crisp. Moss has a go to regain the lead as they round Tatts Corner but Fangio does not give way, and then on lap 26 he gets by at the end of the long straight and it is clear that, if Moss is going to be allowed to win, he is going to have to work for it. 


On the next lap they arrive at Tatts Corner at the same time as McAlpine and he hastily steps sideways to let them through, nearly stopping in the process. They are still lapping in 2'06"0 and giving a nice demonstration of good clean driving. The other two Mercedes-Benz cars still have their satellite Maseratis with them and every one sounds very healthy, but at the back of the field Salvadori has gone out with gearbox trouble and then Collins breaks his clutch and coasts the Owen Maserati back to its pit and withdraws. Rolt has had his throttle put right and let Walker set off in the car, while on lap 32 Wharton breaks an oil pipe and trails oil all the way back to the pits to get the car repaired. On lap 37 Musso gets by Taruffi once more and this time stays in front, and Moss has got a 4-sec lead over Fangio, while yet another green car falls by the wayside when McAlpine withdraws his Connaught with a very flat-sounding engine and no oil pressure. By lap 40 Moss has lapped his own Maserati twice, driven by Macklin. Walker is now having trouble with the dark blue Connaught, and on the next lap Brabham withdraws the Cooper due to engine trouble, and Moss increases his lead to nine seconds due to nipping through some gaps in the traffic, while Fangio has to wait. At half-distance, Moss and Fangio are given the RG sign, which means keep stations and carry on at the same lap speeds, and Taruffi is urged to try and get past Musso once more. At this point Macklin, in Moss’s Maserati, spins off at Tatts Corner on the oil spilt by Wharton, and, leaving the car in the straw bales, he walks back to the pits. Next time round Moss wonders how much it is going to cost him to put it right, and he is greatly relieved to see it motoring again after a short time, Macklin having returned with his mechanics and restarted the car. Hawthorn is feeling decidedly unwell due to the heat and hands his car over to Castellotti, and soon after this, Schell rejoins the race at the wheel of Wharton’s repaired Vanwall. The comparatively slow Aintree circuit, plus the heat, is taking its toll, and as one car rejoins the race so another falls out, and this time it is poor Mieres who retires in a cloud of smoke, after having driven a spirited race. The leaders are now signalled to slow down and, barring accidents, the race is over, Kling being in a very secure third position half a lap behind, and Taruffi is now fourth, having made a big effort and overtaken Musso again, whose car is beginning to show signs of the distance and slowing visibly. 


Castellotti, in Hawthorn’s car, and Trintignant are having a private dice together until the Frenchman’s car has a plug break up which ruins the cylinder head. Schell begins to display Vanwall’s potential once more and catches and passes Castellotti very convincingly, though many laps behind, finding that the second Vanwall handles far better than his original one. Sparken has the only remaining Gordini running, getting weaker and weaker, but he struggles on and by lap 75 the ten cars that are left running seem lost on the vast open space that is the Aintree stadium. The end is now in sight, 90 laps being the full distance, and Moss is 4 seconds ahead of Fangio and has lapped everyone except Kling, who is at Bechers Bend as they go past the start. Nose to tail the two short, squat-looking Mercedes-Benz complete the closing laps and, as they approach the finishing line, Fangio draws up alongside Moss finishing half a car’s length behind him, just as Moss has done with the sports Mercedes-Benz at the Nürburgring earlier in the season. Kling and Taruffi finish third and fourth, respectively, the former not having blotted his copybook for once and the latter showing remarkable form in his first race with the German car. After the prize-giving, Moss pays a nice tribute to Mercedes-Benz for giving him the opportunity to be the first Britisher to win the British Grand Prix, and especially to Fangio for allowing him to do it. With Mercedes-Benz cars finishing 1-2-3-4 it seems that their decision to withdraw from Grand Prix racing next year due to lack of opposition is not a wild misstatement. Moss is the first British driver to win his home Grand Prix, and the victory also signs the first triumph of the young English, who, after obtaining the pole position and setting the fastest lap, can enjoy his first Grand Slam. Fangio gets second and is recognized with the role of protector of his young teammate and of his win, but at the end of the race the Argentinian admits that Moss was simply faster. The podium is completed by Kling, around a minute behind the winner, while Taruffi at his Mercedes debut gets fourth with one lap of delay, again showing his ability of adapting and setting. Luigi Musso picks the last two points up for grabs in the fifth place. If from Aintree Ferrari does not bring home any big satisfaction, in Italy Umberto Maglioli, masterfully driving the powerful Ferrari 3000, pulverizes the record of the uphill race Aosta-Gran San Bernardo, improving the Castellotti’s record and setting an average speed of around 90 km/h. 


The superb technic result of the XVII Aosta-San Bernardo has as a very welcome corollary the most complete regularity of the race under the most feared aspect: the race does not see any accident happen. The organizers arrange a perfect service, largely forbidding access to the public, deploying massive police forces, installing very dense connections: one hundred eight marshals, twenty-four radiotelephones, fifteen first aid posts, seven doctors. This is for the safety of the spectators, who are equally an imposing but highly disciplined mass. As for the greatest possible safety for the pilots, hundreds of straw bales are placed, and all curves are carefully marked. In addition, the drivers, while certainly not sparing themselves, show a commendable sense of responsibility, willingly signing the declaration of submission which reads like this:


"The undersigned runner for the XVII Aosta-San Bernardo declares to be aware of the announcement number 25 emitted by CSAI and to be fully accepting its content. More specifically, the undersigned accepts the exclusion from the standings for the participants whose cars report damage to the car body or to the chassis during the race, or for those who leave the track, or hit trucks, walls, trees, etcetera, or for those responsible of collisions with other cars, excluded the case in which the driver is proved a stranger in relation to the damages reported on his car".


After the conclusion of the race the race director, doctor Mazzolini, declares:


"If the norm number 25 wasn’t useful to slow down these guys, it was still undoubtedly a good idea, at least as superstition. The good thing is that Maglioli was the last one to refuse the act of submission".


In fact, until Sunday night Umberto did not want to know anything about signing, but 30 minutes before the start the directors of the race firmly announce to the Ferrari driver:


"If you don’t sign, you don’t start".


The driver from Biella thinks about it again for one minute, slowly filling one of his twenty-four pipes, and then asks for a pen, and from this moment the record of the Gran San Bernardo has its minutes counted. At the end of the race Maglioli declares:


"The result is better than any of my expectations. I was hoping to get closer to the primate of Castellotti and maybe even to pass it for some fraction of second, but I could have never imagined to set a new record inferior to the previous one for 22 seconds".


The other record holders of the day are Gatta (from Turin), Fornasari and Leonardi. Engineer Gatta was victim of a curious incident that could have seriously damaged him in terms of placement in the standings: early before the Etroubles bridge, a newspaper, lost from the hands of a spectator, sticks to the radiator grille, stopping the cooling air and causing the temperature of the water to grow from 80 to 120 degrees in a few minutes. In a turn the wind moves the paper, allowing Gatta to get to the finish line:


"Luckily it was a newspaper, otherwise I would have suffered a damage that would have caused a disqualification".


The most satisfied is the president of the Valle d’Aosta Automobile Club and of the organizing committee, the commentator Vincent, not only for the obtained third place in the category, but for the outcome of the event:


"Everything went well for the accurate organization. This proves that car races can still take place if they are organized with logical criteria. We hope that the CSAI can look with hope towards the future after this race".


Indeed, the service apparatus prepared for this edition is perfect in every respect, at the point that the president of the Region himself, the lawyer Bondaz, who arrives in the night from Rome, climbs to the Gran San Bernardo pass to follow the race. A week goes by, and on Sunday 24 July 1955 in Lisbon and Messina, Ferrari re-establishes the balance with its traditional rival Maserati. Apart from Formula 1, where at the moment there seems to be little to be done against Mercedes, the glorious industry of Modena has recently been put in difficulty by Maserati also in racing for sports cars. In short, a difficult moment for Ferrari, a delicate situation that resulted in the separation from the company of two or three well-known technicians. But slowly the most evident contingent difficulties are overcome: the recent concrete demonstration of trust in Enzo Ferrari has certainly helped to raise the will to fight, and the victories of the cars decorated with the prancing horse in the last two Sundays are the most evident proof of this. In both the 3000 cc and the 2000 cc class, the Maseratis had managed in recent months to precede the rival cars in particularly important races: in Bari, in the Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix of Monza, in the Shell Grand Prix in Imola; now, however, the clear successes of the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo, of Lisbon, of the 10 Hours of Messina night have arrived. In this last race, extremely severe both for the distance and for the layout of the track, in front of the enthusiasm of the 10.000 spectators who gather along the route from 8:00 in the morning, Ferrari grasps the affirmation, re-establishing the balance of power with the Maserati. The duo Castellotti-Trintignant drivers the three litres from Maranello through the finish line of 1200 kms run in 10 hours, while the rivals’ cars stop along the way one after the other, weakened by the toughness of the circuit. The record of the 10 hours race run in the night falls abundantly. Under a certain aspect, the affirmation of the four cylinders Mondial is even more important than the one of the three litres, since the six cylinders Maserati looked unbeatable in this category. The Maseratis did not show the same resistance they gave proof of in previous occasions, confirming that in motorsport nothing can be taken for granted. The fastest lap of the race in Messina is still set by a Maserati, specifically from Franco Bordoni. In the Lisbon Grand Prix, again the Ferrari, driven by the Californian Gregory Masten, precedes De Graffenried’s Maserati, returned with passion to racing after a cinematographic parenthesis. It is all about waiting to see if, now clearly surpassed in the Formula One races, the Italian cars can still take revenge against Mercedes in the next three important championship appointments still to be disputed: Tourist Trophy, Targa Florio and Carrera Panamericana. It must be said that a big help for Ferrari in Formula One will come from Lancia, since two exact months after the loss of Alberto Ascari, on Tuesday, 26th of July 1955, the Turin factory delivers its materials to the Team of Maranello. 


The material delivery of the cars takes place around 11:00 a.m., in the workshops of via Caraglio, after three big trucks have come from Modena. The engineer Amorotti, who leads the group of technicians together with Cavalier Bazzi, also from the Ferrari workshops, once arrived in Turin notices that all the material cannot be loaded. So even the glorious Lancia truck, the big vehicle that had run over 90.000 km following the Mexican Carrera and had followed all the European trips to transport the racing cars, stands alongside the grey bus of Modena. The workers, wearing a light-blue uniform, start all the operations of uploading while the television and journals operators film the scene. Received by the lawyer Jappelli, Commendator Jano, Mattei and Pasquarelli from Lancia, for the occasion arrive the engineer Arnaldo Trevisani, vice-president of the ACI and president of the AC of Turin, Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, vice-president of the AC of Turin, Dr. Pestelli, head of the Fiat Press Office, Dr. Piglione and Dr. Giovannetti representing the National Automobile Industry Association. Ferrari was delivered six complete cars, two chassis, one of which with fairing, which would have represented the result of studies for high speeds and should have been used for very fast circuits such as Reims, six complete engines, two more almost completed, detached parts to build six more engines, and finally sixty crates of various materials. The delivery of the complete kit of the Lancia team represents part of the contribution that the Turin factory makes to Ferrari to underline the usefulness and efforts of the racing car manufacturers. As it is known, Fiat, on its side, has made available to Ferrari the sum of 25.000 dollars per year for five years. The last act has a sad tone: while the grenade racing cars leave Turin, the light rain falls from a gloomy sky, completing the picture suitable to express the mood of those present. The Turin Formula 1 cars will arrive in Modena in the evening and will be taken over by the technicians of the Maranello company, who will put them in place for the next races; Lancia technicians will collaborate in this regard. However, not all the Formula 1 cars in via Monginevro leave for Modena, as one will remain in Turin. With significant initiative, it was in fact decided to deliver a complete car to the Automobile Museum. It will thus join the three sports cars that the Turin manufacturer has already offered to the museum that few, too few, Turin people know in relation to its importance and interest. The three sports are the 3000 which finished third with Bonetto in the Mille Miglia, the 3300 winner of the Mexican Carrera with Fangio, and of a Mille Miglia with Ascari, and the 3800, which concluded the series of sport models, before the House moved to Formula 1. Now that Lancia is dedicated solely to mass production, the memory of a brief and intense return to the Turin business races will remain in the automobile museum. In the meantime, in the Ferrari complex, to which Fiat also made a significant contribution, the racing cars will allow the Italian colours to face more numerous foreign competitions in the Grand Prix.


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


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